Batt O'Keeffe: challenging

The State Examinations Commission (SEC) has concluded its investigation into last year's Leaving Certificate paper leak controversy and has recommended several changes which will be introduced to the Leaving Cert in this year

Last July, the SEC was forced to reschedule the English Leaving Cert papers after a superintendent distributed the wrong paper to students in a Co Louth school.

Changes to be made to this year's exams in an effort to avoid a similar situation include altering the colour codes of the paper and, where there are two papers in one subject, separating them into different morning and afternoon slots.

Gemma Tuffy of the Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland (ASTI) has said the changes are "reassuring" to parents and students in this year's Leaving Cert, who were concerned after the leak in 2009.

"One of the main issues last year was the fact that the papers were the same colour, so the fact that the SEC has now tackled this issue is a very welcome development.

"At the end of the day, there is always room for human error but this is a step in the right direction."

Tuffy has assured students and parents that the system currently in place is "robust and accountable".

Education minister Batt O'Keeffe said, "I have also asked the SEC to consider ways to strengthen the validation of the opening and distribution of the correct examination papers to candidates for each exam session.

"While we must acknowledge that human error can never be entirely eliminated, we must always have the interests of the examination student at the forefront of our minds and avoid adding undue stress and anxiety in what is already a challenging time for our young people.

"I am satisfied that the SEC has adopted the appropriate measures for this year's examinations so that the risk of any security errors can be minimised and students can concentrate on doing well and face the future with confidence." he added.